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September 27, 2011

Re:  Three issues
I.    Recap of JCP&L Emergency Response Summit
II.   BPU Announces additional public hearing on Electric Companies Response to Hurricane Irene
III. FEMA Funding/Stop Gap Spending Compromise Likely

Dear Mayor:

I.          Recap of JCP&L Emergency Response Summit

On Friday, the League of Municipalities in consultation with Board of Public Utilities (BPU) President Lee Solomon and Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L) held an Emergency Response Summit with selected Mayors as a follow up to the restoration efforts during Hurricane Irene.  In an effort to help improve future communications between JCP&L and elected officials, emergency responders and other State officials, the Summit's primary goal was to develop a plan of communication going forward that will better meet the needs of local communities during major power outages.

The meeting began with a brief presentation from JCP&L explaining their current process and the affects of Hurricane Irene on their customers in the 236 municipalities that they service.  JCP&L President Don Lynch noted that JCP&L had 21,000 wires down; 750,000 customers were affected or 2/3rds of the company's customers; 1,000 tree cutters were working and 7-substations were underwater from flooding.  In the aftermath of the storm, JCP&L replaced 47-miles of wire; 360 damaged poles; 400 cross arms were repaired or replaced; 300 transformers were damaged and replaced and 4,500 people were working to restore power.

 Don Lynch acknowledge that JCP&L did have a communication failure with municipalities and its customers and pledged that JCP&L is working to reassess and improve all lines of communication for future major weather events that could impact power.

The Mayors present noted that the biggest problem with JCP&L in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene was the lack of communication between JCP&L and the municipal officials as well as with the residents.  The Mayors made the following suggestions for improvement:

  • Upgrade technology and infrastructure
  • Hold daily teleconferencing between the municipality and JCP&L
  • Provide the municipality with an annual report on maintenance and inspections
  • Create regional municipal liaisons
  • Use data mining to anticipate “target areas” that are historically “problem areas”
  • Use electronic means such as text messages and e-mail to update municipal officials
  • Issue bullet point press releases to municipal officials
  • Advise municipal officials when crews are working in their municipality
  • Use local officials to provide guidance on the area to out-of-state crews
  • Explore the use of social media
  • Better use of radio, TV and the internet for customers/public updates
  • Use Reverse 911 to update residents
  • Inform crews of key information after staging area
  • Include an insert regarding JCP&L process in customer’s bills

JCP&L is in the process of developing a communication plan for future weather related incidents.  We will provide you additional information as it become available.

II.  BPU Announces additional public hearing on Electric Companies Response to Hurricane Irene

The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has been holding public hearings to review all facets of the four regulated electric distribution companies ("EDCs") plans and response to the hurricane.  The Board has announced the addition of a hearing.

EDC Hurricane Irene Planning and Response Open Public Hearing is as follows:

Date:                Monday, October 3, 2011
Location:         Rutgers EcoComplex
                        1200 Florence-Columbus Road
                        Bordentown, NJ 08505-4200
Time:               4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.

If you plan to attend and speak at the public hearing, please inform Evelyn Dowling at 609-292-1951 or email at Evelyn.Dowling@bpu.state.nj.us

Additional hearings are being planned.  Details on the additional hearings will be released when the hearing dates and locations are finalized.

III.    FEMA Funding/Stop Gap Spending Compromise Likely

Yesterday in Washington, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it had enough money to fund disaster relief efforts through Friday. That allowed lawmakers to lower disaster aid figure in the pending legislation.

Following the announcement, Senate leaders removed $1 billion from their bill and passed legislation that would avert a government shutdown at week's end. That measure, approved by the Senate on a 79-12 vote, would keep the government running until mid-November.

The House appears likely to concur with the compromise when it returns from the week long Rosh Hashanah recess next week. In the meantime, a one-week stopgap measure is scheduled for a vote on Thursday. The week long measure would provide a $2.7 billion infusion of disaster money that would make sure federal help continues to flow to victims of Hurricane Irene and other recent disasters.

If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com

Very truly yours,

 

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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